you have to be born a Hindu to understand Hinduism, a religion as
complex as the country it calls home. Indeed, if you are not
born a Hindu, you cannot convert to Hinduism.
gods and goddesses in Hindu religion appear is many forms, and a profusion
of stories exists to explain them. Even with their divine nature,
Hindu gods and goddesses retain many human qualities.
religion is inseparably intertwined with daily life. Deities
are prayed to on a daily basis, consulted and asked for assistance
in every corner of life, from family, children, and love to financial
success and daily chores. One does not have to make their way
to a temple to pay homage to a god or goddess, for the divine exists
in everything -- every tree, every stone, every living being. This
is one reason why Hindus are so hospitable to strangers, for every
stranger carries something divine within them. After meeting
you for the first time, a Hindu will often invite you into their home
for dinner and to have a place to sleep if you need one, and in so
doing, show their respect for the divine in you. "Namaste",
the standard Hindu greeting, means "I bow to you" and "I recognize
the divine in you".
trinity of Hinduism is Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the sustainer;
and Shiva, the destroyer. Mahadevi, or Devi, is the Great Goddess,
whose body is India and who manifests in bright and dark forms. Roger
Housden writes in his excellent book on spiritual India, Travels Through
Goddess in any form, light or dark, represents power, shakti. The
gods need their consorts in order to act, since by themselves, they
are prior to all manifestation, the still point at the centre."
bright forms, the Goddess is often the consort of one of the gods,
the image of the devoted and obedient wife in a patriarchal society.
As Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and learning, she is the consort
of Brahma. As Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and good fortune,
she is the consort of Vishnu. As Parvati, she is the consort
these holy unions come more deities, such as Ganesh. The son
of Shiva and Parvati, Ganesh is shown (as in the background of this
page) as having a human body and the head of an elephant. There
are many tales to describe how he came to have an elephant head. In
one story, Shiva set off travelling when Ganesh was young and went
away for many years. When he returned, he found Parvati talking
to an adult Ganesh, and assuming Ganesh was a stranger there to woo
his wife, he chopped off his own son's head. Parvati was so
upset that in order to placate her, Shiva said he would replace Ganesh's
head with that of the first living being he came upon. This
happened to be an elephant, and so now Ganesh is portrayed in stone,
in painting and in story as having the head of an elephant.
forms of the Goddess, such as Durga and Kali, are fiercely independent,
very different from their bright counterparts. The Gods and
Goddesses handed Durga their weapons so she could protect them from
evil. She is represented with many arms, each bearing a different
is the Goddess of [many things, among them] Chaos, [; she is]. Feared
and respected, she wears a garland of skulls and demands sacrifices.